It’s a special occasion for Auckland, for Guangzhou and Los Angeles, and for all the business delegates here. Two years ago our three cities signed an historic agreement – an agreement to increase economic cooperation and business links.
The tripartite alliance strengthens our links with two very influential Pacific Rim city economies. For Auckland, Guangzhou and Los Angeles are our most well-established and economically important partner cities.
We, of course, are the junior partner in this relationship – the younger brother. And as every younger brother knows, you sometimes need to make up for your smaller size by being a bit bolder, a bit brasher, a bit louder than your older brothers.
So we thought we’d go big with this summit – we thought we’d put on a good show for our bigger brothers and special visitors and show you what the little brother can achieve when he really puts his mind to something.
Last year we had the honour to be hosted by my colleague the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti
I took a delegation of 43 Auckland businesses to Los Angeles, and it was a wonderful business success. It has opened up lucrative American and Chinese markets to local Auckland businesses.
Over the next two days I want the same to happen here in Auckland. A further opening up and strengthening of business ties across all three cities. That means Guangzhou and Los Angeles businesses doing more business in Auckland, and vice versa.
Personally I’m looking forward to some great discussions with my Los Angeles and Guangzhou counterparts. On a political level, we had very productive achievements at the last summit. We may be different in size and culture, but our three cities have a lot in common, and we’re tackling some common issues together.
I especially want to recognise the leadership that my Guangzhou and Los Angeles colleagues are taking in the environmental area. Like Auckland, both cities are also members of C40 and committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in innovative ways.
To all our overseas business delegates, I’m proud to welcome you to Auckland. You’ll find this city is a great place to do business. I warmly welcome you to form stronger business links while you are here, to increase exports to and from Auckland, and to have some good rest and relaxation in the world’s most beautiful city!
What better place is there to do business? Auckland is on a roll at the moment and we’re growing fast. Our economy is strong with annual GDP growth of 3.6%. We’re growing by 819 new residents and 344 new homes every week – there’s a new street created every two days. Eight new classrooms and teachers are created every week. Last year retail spend in Auckland was up 8.4% for year-end September. The private sector is signalling $1.5 billion in new office development in central Auckland alone between now and 2022.
We’ve just been recognised as an international major events capital and we found out a month ago that we’ve received a special mention in the Lee Kuan Yew World Cities prize.
Record numbers of international students are choosing to study in Auckland. Our tourism numbers are growing significantly. New hotels and the International Convention Centre are ready to go.
It’s great that American Airlines is among those represented here at the summit. We’re so looking forward to June when American Airlines is starting a daily service between Los Angeles and Auckland. Of course we also have a great partnership with China Southern Airlines – a supporter of this summit – on the Auckland-Guangzhou route.
To our visitors, throughout the summit you will see the importance and special place that Maori, our indigenous people, have in this city – culturally, politically, and economically. A sign of the importance is that our very first session, after my speech is headed Maori – Their place in the world.
I urge you to embrace our cultural diversity, and to dive head first in to Maori culture. To all the business delegates here, I implore you to make best use of all of the summit sessions to meet counterparts from the other cities, to discuss your business opportunities.
Take back to Guangzhou and to Los Angeles the message that while we may be at the bottom of the world, we’re ideally placed as a business hub both for Asia and the Americas. Our free trade agreement with China, our membership of ASEAN and APEC, and the trans-Pacific Partnership, makes us a strong link between North America and China. This summit underlines how Auckland is fast becoming the innovation hub of Asia-Pacific.
Running alongside the Summit is Techweek AKL 2016. This is showcasing Auckland as an innovation hub and providing a focal point for innovators and entrepreneurs to connect Auckland is home to world-class innovation. We are excited to be showing you that story and shining the spotlight on the ideas that Auckland and New Zealand can offer the world. We have some incredibly innovative businesses in the room here today, from all three of our cities.
I’m looking forward to meeting those of you I haven’t met, and to catching up with old friends. To our Auckland businesses, you have a significant opportunity here to make connections in two very significant cities. I implore you to make the most of this summit to create new networks and find business opportunities.
For those of you visiting Auckland, please find time to enjoy our stunning environment, friendly people and witness our vibrant culture and thriving economy. I look forward to more achievements in the next two days and our continuing long-term relationship.
Thank you – Xie Xie – Kia ora